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Escaping the Refugee Crisis

PRINCETON – In July, the number of migrants reaching the borders of the European Union passed 100,000 – the third consecutive month in which a new record was set. In one week in August, 21,000 migrants arrived in Greece. Tourists complained that the summer holiday they had planned on a Greek island was now in the midst of a refugee camp.

Of course, the refugee crisis has far more serious implications. Last week, Austrian authorities found the decomposing bodies of 71 migrants in a Hungarian truck abandoned near Vienna. And more than 2,500 would-be migrants have drowned in the Mediterranean this year, most of them attempting to cross from North Africa to Italy.

Migrants who have made it as far as France are living in tents near Calais, waiting for a chance to get to England by scrambling aboard a freight train passing through the Channel Tunnel. Some of them die, too, falling off trains or getting run over.

Nevertheless, the number of refugees in Europe is still small compared to some other countries. Germany has received more applications for asylum than any other European country, but its six refugees per thousand inhabitants is less than a third of Turkey’s 21 per thousand, which in turn is dwarfed by Lebanon’s 232 per thousand.